Reliance Jio has alleged that the incumbent operators are using “unfair and deceptive” methods such as lining-up customised retention offers for subscribers willing to port out of their network. Jio has shot-off a letter to TRAI asking it to take “strongest action” against the three operators – Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular — and to recommend “highest penalty” for what it terms is gross violation of the licence norms, telecom tariff orders and mobile number portability (MNP) guidelines.
The Mukesh Ambani-led telecom company – known for its disruptive plans – has alleged in the letter dated April 10 to TRAI that these operators are giving certain tariff offers and promotional packs, including the creation of specific STVs and post-paid plans, discounts in value of STVs and post-paid bill amounts” to influence subscribers who wish to port out of their network.
Jio claimed that these offers are being presented to subscribers “surreptitiously” on one-to-one basis and that the same offers are not available to general public. Nor are the companies openly publicising such offers on their website as stipulated, it said. “At the outset, we submit that so far as these MNP offers are concerned, these are in gross violation of extant telecom laws including Telecom Tariff Order, 1999,” Jio has said in the five page letter to TRAI.
Responding to the allegations, a Vodafone spokesperson said that as its customer needs are diverse, the company offers them “exciting and engaging propositions catering to their myriad requirements, in accordance with applicable norms, regulations and industry best practices”. “Vodafone’s commitment to its hundreds of million customers is to always provide super value and experience across product, service and network,” the spokesperson added.
A Bharti Airtel spokesperson too dismissed the allegations saying the company is in full compliance of all regulatory guidelines including tariff orders and MNP regulations. “We categorically deny these allegations,” the spokesperson added. E-mails sent to Idea Cellular did not elicit any response.
Jio alleged that the call centres of these operators are providing “false and malicious” information to subscribers regarding the service quality and network coverage of the new operator. “The call centre recordings reveal a vicious campaign underway to defame and vilify the services being offered by Reliance Jio,” it alleged.
Jio has said that such practices are in violation of tariff reporting requirements of TRAI and breach the limit of 25 plans (prepaid and postpaid) allowed as per regulations to operators. It also claimed that such customised MNP plans are in violation of the tariff order as the subscriber selection criteria is not disclosed by the telcos. Jio has urged TRAI to “take cognizance of the vilification and defamation campaign underway against RJIL” by the operators, and direct them to “cease and desist” from such acts.